National Academy of Sciences (NAS), 2101 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20418, United States
In 1924 Henri Édouard Prosper Breuil was awarded the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.
Royal Anthropological Institute, 50 Fitzroy St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 5BT, United Kingdom
In 1941, Henri Édouard Prosper Breuil was awarded the Huxley Memorial Medal and Lecture.
Geological Society of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 0BD, United Kingdom
In 1948, Henri Breuil won the Prestwich Medal for Geology.
Institut de France, 23 Quai de Conti, 75270 Paris, France
Henri Breuil was elected a member of the Institut de France in 1938.
Henri Breuil was educated at the Sorbonne and the Catholic Institute in Paris. Henri Breuil also received honorary degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cape Town, Lisbon, and Fribourg.
From an early age, Breuil displayed a great interest in natural history, particularly geology and human paleontology. He was a lecturer in prehistory and ethnography at the University of Fribourg from 1905 to 1910; professor of prehistoric ethnography at the Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, Paris, from 1910; and professor of prehistory at the Collège de France from 1929 to 1947.
Breuil did original research on the Paleolithic period in Europe, China, and South Africa, and was for years the doyen of Paleolithic studies. His first contact with this field was through Émile Cartailhac, professor of prehistoric archaeology at Toulouse, and he was present at the field meetings in the Dordogne in 1901 when Les Combarelles and Font de Gaume were discovered. He was also at La Mouthe when the authenticity of Paleolithic cave art was accepted. He journeyed to Altamira with Cartailhac the following year. From then on, one of his main contributions to the development of archaeology was his painstaking recording and analysis of Paleolithic cave art. He was closely associated with the discovery of Tuc d’Audoubert in 1912 and Les Trois-Frères in 1916 and was the first archaeologist to visit and describe Lascaux in 1940.
Breuil’s other main contribution to prehistoric archaeology was his reclassification of Paleolithic industries, which began with his classic paper "Les subdivisions du paléolithique supérieur et leur signification," given at the Geneva Congress of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences in 1912. He was not so successful when he strayed away from his Paleolithic studies to write about the art of the megalith builders of France and Iberia, and toward the end of his life he became involved in controversies about the interpretation of paintings in South Africa and the authenticity of those found at Rouffignac, France, in 1956.
Henri Breuil had a strong desire to enter into the religious order of the Roman Catholic Church and was ordained as an Abbé (religious father) in 1897. He was ordained a priest in 1900, but was given permission to pursue his research interests.
In addition, Henri Breuil was a member of nineteen foreign societies and academies.